Ah, May…caught somewhere between Easter and the peak tourist season. Warmer and drier than April, but not as hot as the summer.
In other words, a decent time to visit Vienna. Particularly if you enjoy your music, food and drink, for May is a month full of classical and culinary festivals.
Top activities in May 2022
So, aside from the usual museums, galleries and other sights, what does May offer the discerning visitor to Vienna?
(Hopefully, COVID will be behind us by then, but do check the latest info nearer the time in case of regulations that might impact the below.)
Exhibitions in May
(The Albertina Modern should host an Ai Weiwei exhibition)
We have a little while until May, so offering some exhibition tips would be a bit premature. However, provisional plans include these rather intriguing possibilities:
- A Josef Hoffmann exhibition at the MAK museum
- A David Hockney exhibition at the Kunstforum Wien
- A Munch exhibition at the Albertina
- An Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Albertina Modern
- A Dalí/Freud exhibition at Belvedere
- A Rothschild exhibition at the Jewish Museum
- An exhibition on movie dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum
(One of these exhibitions is not like the others.)
Bring a glass
Not all the slopes in Austria are for skiing down. The country has a lot of vineyards (as does Vienna itself). Austrians also drink more beer per head than anybody except our thirsty Czech neighbours.
Vienna’s bars and restaurants allow you to taste the local beers and wines, or you can visit these festivals in May:
- The two-day spring version of the Craft Bier Fest (next dates TBA) attracts dozens of breweries from around the country and abroad, who are all happy to provide a sample for you to taste in exchange for a coin or two
- Beer lovers might also like the four-day open-air Vienna Beer Festival (2022 date: TBA), where brewers big and small come together in the very centre of Vienna
- The city-owned Cobenzl winery normally has an open day in May (next date TBA), which is free. Though you do have to pay if you want to try some of the (excellent) wines. The winery also sits on a hill with lovely views across the city
- If the idea of wine sounds tempting, then consider the VieVinum, an international wine festival at the Hofburg palace (2022 dates are May 21-23).
- Consider also the Vienna Wine Fest (next date TBA), a trade fair that also opens its doors to the public. The entrance ticket includes tastings
Bring a plate
A fine glass of wine or beer goes better with a fine dish of regional food. And, as luck would have it, there are plenty of food festivals in May, too.
- The Genuss Festival (2022 dates TBA) is an open-air gourmet paradise, with stalls lining the winding paths through the Stadtpark city gardens. The booths come from all over the country to sell local specialties (to eat, take away, or use as gifts)
- Burgenland is a small province east of Vienna, and the Burgenland Kultinarium (2022 dates TBA) festival encourages you to learn about the area with the help of large quantities of its wonderful food and drink
- The 3-day Waldviertelpur festival (2022 dates TBA) features the best of the Waldviertel region (a rural area northwest of Vienna). This includes their rather hearty cuisine, particularly a myriad different things you can do with poppy seeds
- The European Street Food festival (pushed back to September in 2021) rolls into town with trucks and stalls tempting you with a wide diversity of culinary delights from around the globe
- The Wiener Zitrustage or Vienna Citrus Days (May 26th to 29th) add a little fizz and colour to the month in the rather apt location of the Schönbrunn Palace orangerie
Enjoy the music & celebrations
(Heldenplatz – home to the Fest der Freude open-air concert)
The 2022 May festivals don’t end there, either.
- The Donaukanaltreiben festival (2022 dates TBA) celebrates urban life with a party-like atmosphere down by the Danube Canal that runs alongside Vienna’s city centre. Think live music, bars, street food, flea markets and similar
- Think of the Steffl Kirtag (May 26th to June 6th) outside the cathedral as a cross between a village funfair and a Christmas market (but without the Christmas part)
- The Fest der Freude (May 8th) celebrates the liberation of Vienna and the end of Nazi rule with a free concert on Heldenplatz square next to the Hofburg palace. The Vienna Symphony orchestra performs, with the event also in remembrance of those who suffered at the hands of that occupation
- International acts should be returning to Vienna. The giant Stadthalle venue, for example, has provisional plans for May gigs by One Direction, the 2Cellos, and Sunrise Avenue
Go for a swim
Vienna’s numerous outdoor public swimming facilities should open up for the summer from early May. These include:
- Family facilities, with shallow pools and family-friendly prices
- Multipurpose facilities, with both indoor and outdoor pools
- Summer facilities with open-air pools only, including large riverside recreational areas such as the Gänsehäufel
Buy some popcorn
Two international film festivals normally fill Viennese screens during May:
- The Jewish Film Festival (2022 dates TBA; moved to October in 2021) features works from around the world that address aspects of Jewish life in all its facets and contexts
- The prestigious Vienna Shorts Festival (May 25th to 30th) tackles the short form version of movie-making, covering numerous genres and featuring some high-quality competitions, too
Enjoy the flowers
By early May, the spring flower displays planted by the city or national parks authorities are normally in full bloom. Try, for example:
- Schönbrunn Palace – the landscaped gardens in front of the palace are gorgeous. But also take the time to drop into the Kronprinzengarten, a privy garden with geometric shapes made of flower beds and different-coloured gravel
- The Rathauspark – the park surrounding the Rathausplatz square in the centre is usually full of tulips
- The gardens between the two Baroque palaces at Belvedere should have a flower or three by now
- The Volksgarten – a public gardens opposite the Rathausplatz and home to hundreds of different rose varieties
- Hirschstetten – a large (and beautiful) landscaped gardens and park area that actually serves as a plant nursery facility for the city